Liam Smith’s rematch with Chris Eubank Jr at the AO Arena in Manchester has been postponed due to injury, so Franchon Crews-Dezurn and Savannah Marshall will now headline the event on Saturday July 1 live on Sky Sports.
The date change to July 1 came following a request from Smith, who wanted to adjust his training camp for a two-week period in order to allow the healing of a minor injury which had flared up.
With Eubank Jr consenting to the move, the two rivals were due to return to the AO Manchester Arena in July, almost five months to the day from the four-round January firefight which ended with Smith winning by stoppage in the first minute of the fourth round.
However, Smith has been unable to recover from the injury, leaving the 34-year-old disappointed but also delighted the event will still go ahead with Savannah Marshall’s undisputed super-middleweight world title fight against Franchon Crews-Dezurn now headlining the event – live on Sky Sports.
I’ll heal up now and then the fully-fit Liam Smith will be back later this year to give Chris his second beating.
“I asked BOXXER to put a big card together for this pay-per-view rematch with Chris Eubank Jr and they more than delivered, so I’m honestly delighted that BOXXER is keeping the card together – most promoters wouldn’t do that, I think,” Smith said.
“I’ve always said a fully-fit Liam Smith beats Chris Eubank Jr every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I tried training through it because I didn’t want to let anyone down but my team have decided to withdraw me following the latest medical assessment.
“I’ll heal up now and then the fully-fit Liam Smith will be back later this year to give Chris his second beating.”
Promoter Ben Shalom said: “Nobody is more disappointed than Liam Smith. He’s the ultimate professional but he respects his team’s decision to postpone the bout. We’re working on a new date for the fight and hope to announce that in a week or so. In the meantime, we’ve got some huge fights taking place in Manchester on July 1.”
The rest of the bill will stay the same with rising light-heavyweight star Ben Whittaker back in action along with Callum Simpson.
The co-headline bout remains in place, with former middleweight world titlist Marshall challenging undisputed super-middleweight champion Crews-Dezurn for the unified WBO, WBA, WBC and IBF world 168lb titles.
It will be Marshall’s second consecutive undisputed championship fight after her groundbreaking clash with Claressa Shields at the O2 Arena last year.
It means Marshall is on track to land a record-setting one-two this summer as she follows October’s sell-out of the O2 in London – the UK’s largest arena – by headlining a sold-out show at the AO Arena Manchester – the UK’s second-largest arena.
She becomes the first female boxer ever to headline the UK’s two largest arenas in back-to-back events.
There will be further world title action on the bill with 2022 Boxer of the Year Natasha Jonas making a defence of her unified WBO, WBC and IBF super-welterweight titles.
Her challenger will be announced in the coming days.
British super-middleweight champion Mark Heffron – a Champs Camp stablemate of Jonas under the tutelage of two-time trainer of the year Joe Gallagher – will defend the prestigious Lonsdale Belt against Zak Chelli in a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.
“Savannah Marshall headlining the UK’s two biggest arenas in back-to-back fights is a first for a female fighter and shows the strength of the women’s sport today. She’s fighting for the undisputed world super-middleweight championship against the USA’s Franchon Crews-Dezurn – that’s a fight which could headline any arena in the world,” Shalom said.
“Manchester’s own Mark Heffron defending his British title against Zak Chelli, Natasha Jonas laying her own world titles on the line, plus a once-in-a-generation talent like Ben Whittaker and the outstanding Callum Simpson – this is a card stacked with great fights and we are very excited for it.”
Fans will also be able to have a drink on BOXXER. They have arranged free food and beverage vouchers for everyone in attendance at Manchester’s AO Arena on July 1, as well as priority access and a discount for tickets to the rescheduled Smith vs Eubank II event.
“We understand a lot of fans will be disappointed to hear the Smith-Eubank rematch is being postponed, so we’ve arranged a free voucher for every fan in the venue to have a drink on us on fight night,” Shalom said, “plus they will receive priority access to Smith vs Eubank II tickets for the new date when it’s announced, and a discount on those tickets.”
All tickets remain valid for the July 1 event, which airs live on Sky Sports, with full refunds available for fans who cannot attend.